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Moroccan Zaalouk Recipe: Delightful Eggplant and Tomato Dip

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Zaalouk is a traditional Moroccan dish made from eggplants and tomatoes, cooked with flavorful spices like paprika and cumin. This versatile dish can be served as a salad, dip, or appetizer.

You can enjoy it warm or cold, making it perfect for any season. It’s a must-try for anyone who loves Mediterranean cuisine and wants to add a touch of Moroccan flavor to their meals.

Whether you’re a seasoned cook or a beginner, this easy recipe will guide you through the steps to create this delicious, healthy dish that pairs wonderfully with pita or crusty bread.

Exact Ingredients (+ Possible Substitutes)

Here are the ingredients you need to make Moroccan Zaalouk, along with some possible substitutes.


  • Eggplant (Aubergine): 1 large or 2 medium, peeled partially and diced
  • Tomatoes: 4 medium, chopped (you can keep the skin on)
  • Garlic: 3-4 cloves, minced
  • Olive Oil: 2-3 tablespoons
  • Paprika: 1 teaspoon
  • Cumin: 1 teaspoon
  • Cayenne Pepper: 1/2 teaspoon or to taste
  • Salt: To taste
  • Fresh Parsley: 1/4 cup, chopped
  • Fresh Cilantro: 1/4 cup, chopped

Possible Substitutes:

  • Eggplant: If you can’t find eggplant, zucchini can be a substitute, but the flavor will be different.
  • Tomatoes: You can use canned tomatoes if fresh ones are not available.
  • Olive Oil: Any vegetable oil can work, but olive oil gives the best flavor.
  • Paprika: Smoked paprika can be used for a different flavor twist.
  • Cayenne Pepper: Red chili flakes or fresh chili peppers.
  • Fresh Herbs: Dried parsley and cilantro can be used if fresh ones aren’t available, but use about half the amount.

Make sure you have everything ready before you start cooking!


  1. Prepare Ingredients:

    • Chop 2 medium eggplants and 4 ripe tomatoes into small pieces.
    • Mince 3 garlic cloves.
    • Finely chop a handful of fresh cilantro and parsley.
  2. Cook the Eggplant:

    • Heat a pan and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
    • Add the chopped eggplants and cook until they become tender, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add Tomatoes and Spices:

    • Add the chopped tomatoes and minced garlic to the pan.
    • Mix in 1 teaspoon of ground cumin, 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (optional), and salt to taste.
  4. Simmer:

    • Stir everything together.
    • Add ⅓ cup of water.
    • Reduce heat and cover the pan.
    • Let it simmer for about 20 minutes, until the vegetables are very soft.
  5. Mash and Season:

    • Use a potato masher or fork to mash the mixture to your desired consistency.
    • Stir in the chopped cilantro and parsley.
    • Drizzle a bit more olive oil on top if you like.
  6. Serve:

    • Serve warm or at room temperature.
    • You can enjoy Zaalouk with warm bread, as a side dish, or even as a dip.

Tips, Tricks & Storing

Choose Fresh Ingredients: Always pick fresh tomatoes and eggplant. Look for firm, shiny eggplant and ripe, juicy tomatoes. Fresh herbs like cilantro and parsley make a huge difference in flavor.

Peeling Tomatoes: If you prefer a smoother texture, blanch your tomatoes. Cut a shallow cross on the bottom, boil them for 10 seconds, then cool in ice water. The skin will peel off easily.

Cooking Eggplant: Keep some eggplant skin on for a bit of texture. Slice them into rounds about 1 cm thick. Sauté until they are golden and tender.

Spice it Up: Add chili peppers or cayenne if you enjoy heat. Be cautious with spices; you can always add more later.

Water Control: While simmering, keep an eye on the water level. If the mixture looks too dry, add a little water. This prevents sticking and ensures everything cooks evenly.

Mash for Texture: Once cooked, use a fork or potato masher to mash the mixture. This gives zaalouk its iconic, chunky texture. Don’t over-mash if you prefer some chunks.

Serving Suggestions: Zaalouk can be served warm or cold. It’s great as a dip with bread, a side dish, or even a topping for grilled meats.


Refrigeration: Store zaalouk in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It keeps well for up to 5 days.

Freezing: For longer storage, freeze zaalouk in portions. Use airtight containers or freezer bags. It can last up to 3 months in the freezer. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.

Reheating: Warm up zaalouk on the stovetop over low heat. Add a splash of water or olive oil to bring it back to its creamy consistency.

Recipe Variations & Serving Suggestions

There are many ways you can change up your zaalouk to fit different tastes.

Chunky or Smooth:
For a chunkier zaalouk, roast the eggplants whole, then chop them after removing the skin. If you prefer it smoother, simmer the chopped eggplants and tomatoes directly in the pan.

Spice Level:
You can add or reduce the amount of chili peppers or cayenne to adjust the heat to your liking. Some people like it milder, others prefer it with a kick.

Feel free to experiment with the herbs. Increase the amount of cilantro and parsley for a fresher taste. You can also add mint for a unique twist.

Roasting vs. Simmering:
Roasting eggplants gives a smoky flavor, while simmering keeps it more traditional. Both methods work well, so try each to see which you prefer.

Serving Suggestions

As a Dip:
Serve zaalouk as a dip with warm pita bread or fresh vegetable sticks. It’s great for a healthy snack or a party appetizer.

Side Dish:
Zaalouk pairs well with grilled meats and fish. It adds a delicious, vegetable-packed side to your meal.

Spread it on a sandwich or wrap for a tasty and nutritious addition. It goes well with hummus, grilled veggies, or falafel.

Use it as a topping for baked potatoes or rice. It adds flavor and nutrition to simple dishes.

Experiment and find which variations you like best!

Benjamin Happy Muncher

Hi, I'm Benjamin. I love cooking, long walks, and my girlfriend! Here you’ll find simple and delicious recipes that you can make in 30 minutes or less.